Q: The living room of our apartment opens onto a little balcony. The door out is between two large plate glass windows. My question is, what kind of curtains to use that will cover the windows and still let us go in and out the door?
A: While you could install curtains that would draw clear of the door when needed, it may be that curtains per se are not really your best answer here.
In the photo we show here, New York designer Michelle Slovak solves a similar problem by using a clever combination treatment:
blinds on the windows with a roller shade on the door. The blinds provide light- and privacy-control at the twist of a wand. The shade is mounted on the frame so it swings in and out with the door. Pull it down at night; roll it up and out of sight by day.
Her solution is as sensible and attractive as it is clever: both treatments complement the essentially contemporary attitude of the room. Plus, they're much gentler on the decorating budget than the yards and yards of fabric it would take to dress that entire wall in curtains.
See more of the designer's legerdemain at www.michelleslovak.com.
Q: Are animal prints really here to stay? I've always loved patterns like leopard, zebra and giraffe but have hesitated to use them in decorating for fear they'd go "out."
What's your advice?
A: It's still a jungle in here. Animal patterns have been classics since Elsie de Wolfe, no less, first began spreading them across chic New York City rooms back in the early l900s. And they show no signs of going extinct anytime in the near future of interior design.
Au contraire, animal prints are constantly evolving, updating and being recolored beyond any palette Mother Nature ever devised. For example, I live happily with two armless chairs that recently went from genteel green velvet to a wonderful woven allover leopard print in exuberant red!
Ditto for zebra stripes and giraffe patterns in a rainbow of colors. Fun and yet familiar, they can smarten-up a room without being OTT (over the top), as the British would put it.
Q: I love chartreuse, but I'm afraid to use it in my home. My girlfriends warn me that it's not a fit color to live with, only good to wear. Should I listen to them?
A: If you love chartreuse, have the courage of your conviction and use it in your home.
Start with little touches if you're timid ... cushion here, a vase or lamp base there. Only the truly brave might go this far, but one or more walls painted chartreuse (aka poison green and apple green) can bring any room fast-forward into today!
By any name, it's a color that's been on the charts for several years now, and "just won't go away," says Maggi Waud, half of the trend-setting London textile studio Colwill and Waud.
Obviously, a lot of home decorators out there do have the courage of their conviction that chartreuse is an exciting color to live with.
Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design.